Marcia Sinclair had never had a mammogram and then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, she tells all women, young and old, to get regular mammograms.
“When I got breast cancer, I’d never been for a mammogram because I’d been put off after hearing about the experiences of some other women so I was devastated when I was first diagnosed. Now, I tell every woman to get a regular mammogram – it could save your life,” she says.
The 71-year-old breast cancer survivor was first diagnosed nearly 20 years ago after discovering a small lump in her breast about the size of the pea.
“I didn’t tell anyone because my daughter’s wedding was coming up and I didn’t want to spoil her big day. So I went for the tests and they came back positive. I had to have a mastectomy five days after the wedding.
“I was really quite devastated and it was quite traumatic for me, but my husband was wonderful and I confided in a couple of female friends. It was the incredible love and attention from my family and friends that got me through, and that’s what I try to give to others now.”
Marcia says she flew through the mastectomy surgery, but her lymph nodes were found to be affected so she then required three months of chemotherapy.
“I was desperate not to lose my hair so I packed my head in ice every time I had a chemo session. It was quite miserable to be honest, but after every chemo session my husband would give me a rose and so by the time I had my twelfth session he was giving me a dozen roses!”
A follow-up mammogram after her chemotherapy revealed that Marcia had pre-cancerous cells in her other breast and she made the decision to have that removed as well.
“I just thought I’d pre-empt it and have that breast off as well. I’ve never had a reconstruction either. I just thought after two operations, I couldn’t face it and my husband said it makes no difference to him so I just left it.”
Marcia has now been cancer-free for more than 20 years and considers herself a ‘success story’. She says she remained positive throughout her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“I was always really positive. I never had a negative feeling that cancer was going to beat me and I think the wonderful kindness of my friends and family really helped with that.”
Marcia says she wants other women to learn from her experience and be vigilant about their breast health by getting regular mammograms and monitoring their breasts for any changes and seeking medical help if they notice any.